Robert Jackson is James G. Watson Professor of English at the University of Tulsa. He is the author of Fade In, Crossroads: A History of the Southern Cinema (2017) and Seeking the Region in American Literature and Culture: Modernity, Dissidence, Innovation (2005), and the editor of "Faulkner and the North," a special issue of The Faulkner Journal (Spring 2016). He is currently at work on a book about the relationship between James Baldwin and Robert F. Kennedy and its influence on the history of race relations in the United States.
This book investigates a flood that sprawled across forty percent of the United States (and some of Canada), killing hundreds (and perhaps thousands, since African American deaths were not included in any “official” count), displacing nearly one million people—including 300,000 African Americans who were placed in makeshift camps, which the Red Cross called “concentration camps” and which reproduced a particularly American racial logic—and stimulating an enormous range of intellectual and aesthetic production from the Mississippi Delta blues of Bessie Smith to the Berlin radio broadcasts of Walter Benjamin. The 1927 Mississippi flood, Parrish argues at length, and quite compellingly, should be understood as one of the central events in the history of modernism.